Chocolate Pie a la Grandma Dorothy

Somewhere along the course of attempting to be more "green," I’ve decided to give up my long held subscription to Bon Appetit.  Don’t get me wrong.  I truly enjoy the magazine, but it doesn’t make sense to get the magazine if I can surf through epicurious whenever I feel like it.  Currently, the publishing company is in denial that I’m leaving, so they keep sending me offers and bribes, and more issues of the magazine.  Like the January issue that is sporting the "Dessert of the Year:  Chocolate Pudding Pie."

Well, who knew?

One of the things I married when I married my husband was his Grandma Dorothy’s Chocolate Pie recipe which was his Grandpa Al’s favorite.  Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet either of these lovely people.  But my mother-in-law graciously provided me the card so that I could make it for my husband on his birthday each year because not just any chocolate pie would do.  Ahem.  I suppose I get that, but if you’ve gotten to know me at all, you now realize I’m an obsessively compulsive "avoid making the same recipe EVER" type of cook.

How could I possibly make the same pie year after year?  I couldn’t.  And I tried a few times to make other pies, but he’d never really eat them.  So he’d make his own.  Or he’d make one for Father’s Day to share with his dad because Grandma Dorothy’s Chocolate Pie is my Father-in-Law’s favorite as well.  Now, isn’t that cute?

So I thought it was about time that I gave this pie a close look and a makeover for my husband’s birthday this past December. (Doncha just love people with December birthdays?  It’s not like we aren’t busy or anything, is it?)

I began with the pie crust because the original recipe calls for "1 baked pie shell" which could be something found in a freezer and purchased. Horrors!  Actually, I’m kidding, but I don’t love any pie enough to slam it on the table with a frozen pie crust.  Where’s the adventure and daring in that?  Just think of all those pie dough recipes out there waiting to be experimented with…

So I went back to my most trusted recipe for a flaky pie dough from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking with Julia.  I’ve been trying to memorize this recipe because it isn’t rocket science, but each time I’ve made it, I’ve done so in different quantities.  I love this recipe because it provides directions for making the dough by hand, with a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and with a food processor.  I’ve tried it each way, but prefer the food processor the best because it’s so simple.  The only aggravation is dividing the recipe, because it makes so much dough.  Here are the amounts for half the recipe which will make two pie crusts or a double crusted pie (and yes, I still have half of it in my freezer):

Flaky Pie Dough

2-5/8 c. flour

1-1/2 tsp salt

3 oz. unsalted butter

5-1/2 oz. shortening (1/2 stick Crisco + 6 T)

1/2 c. ice water

To Make the Dough:  Make sure all ingredients are very cold before starting.  (I put the butter and shortening in the freezer for a while) Put flour and salt into bowl of food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times.  Cut butter and shortening into cubes and scatter across the flour in the bowl.  Pulse only until the mixture looks like clumps of slightly moist cornmeal.  Add a bit of the ice water and pulse.  Continue only until the mixture looks clumpy and will stick together when pressed.  Do not process until it comes together in a ball like other recipes you may have used.  Scrape the dough into some plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

To Bake the Crust: Center a rack
in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Fit a piece of
parchment paper or aluminum foil into the pan and fill with rice, dried
beans, or pie weights.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is
set and lightly browned.  Remove the paper and weights and cool the
shell to room temperature on a rack before filling.  If you’d like to see the photos from a previous post, click here.


Chocolate Pie Filling

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped (I used Scharfenberger’s Dark)

2-1/2 c. whole milk

3 T flour

3 T cornstarch

1 c. super fine sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2 egg yolks, beaten

1 T unsalted butter

2 tsp. vanilla

Melt the chocolate in milk in a double boiler pan and blend with a rotary egg beater (I used a whisk).  Combine flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt.  Add to chocolate mixture and cook 15 min. stirring constantly.  Mixture should be think and smooth.  Stir in a small amount of chocolate mixture into egg yolks.  Return to double-boiler and cook a few minutes longer.  Add butter and vanilla.  Cool.  Pour into cooled pie shell.



3 egg whites (I used 3 and added 4 more from a bag in the freezer)

4 T sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Beat egg whites until they hold a stiff peak.  Add sugar gradually (1 T at a time) beating constantly.  Add vanilla.  Pile lightly on filling.  Bake at 325 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until meringue is brown.


Notes:  I used a tart pan with a removable bottom for this pie just to see how the crust behaved.  It was not bad!  I didn’t extend the dough to the top of the pan because of the depth, so the edges were a bit uneven.  No one complained.  My pie pudding didn’t come out nearly as dark as when my mother-in-law makes this and I can’t figure out why.  Hers is nearly black.  She said she uses whatever chocolate she can find at the grocery store (Baker’s ?) so I’m still wondering about that one.  As far as the egg whites go, three egg whites aren’t remotely enough for a meringue pie in my opinion.  Since eggs freeze so nicely and I always have extras in the freezer from previous recipes, I just decided to see how big I could get my meringue this time.  It was a lot of fun, but I didn’t quite take my time with the piping.  Our family has always been a "pile it on" type of family, so piping meringue was a new thing.  It’s feels a bit different than piping frosting or cream — not quite as cooperative.  I probably needed to whip the meringue more, but I was trying to stick to the original recipe as much as possible.

All in all, it turned out just fine, and he ate the entire pie himself.  Absolutely no calories there, right?


Personally, I’m thinking I might try the pudding recipe on the cover of Bon Appetit, just as a comparison.  Just to see if I can for once and for all, trick my husband.  It won’t work, of course, but it will be fun trying.